Saturday, May 05, 2018

Looking back to No Future

The fourth guest in the Sounding Bored interview series is Matthew Worley, whose book No Future: Punk, Politics And British Youth Culture, 1976-1984 was published by Cambridge University Press last year. As the identity of the book's publisher implies, Worley approaches the subject from an academic perspective; a Professor of Modern History at the University of Reading, he actually teaches a module on this very topic.

The year span gives an indication as to the considerable scope of the book. As Worley explains in the podcast, he may have purposefully limited his study to the UK to make it more manageable, but he nevertheless effectively attempts to cover a period that took Jon Savage and Simon Reynolds two separate hefty tomes (England's Dreaming and Rip It Up And Start Again respectively). No Future is also ambitious in that it specifically sets out to locate punk and its various offshoots in the particular social, political, economic and cultural context of the time.

Over the course of the interview, Worley talks to regular host Rob about divisive bands and figures associated with punk (The Jam, Garry Bushell), the darker side of the movement (particularly the connections to the Far Right) and the emergence of the anti-Thatcher Red Wedge.

Readers of Reynolds' book will be familiar with the arguments that, with the benefit of historical perspective, punk didn't represent a significant rupture or Year Zero (despite what some might have claimed), and that a rather reactionary nostalgia and classicism kicked in in the mid-80s.  However, some of Worley's other observations, and the fact that much of No Future is based on research into fanzines (invaluable source material, in that they are free of revisionist mythologising), suggest that there is still much to be gained from picking up a copy.

No comments: